- The key motivations for taking part in physical activities and sport for Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities are to maintain good health and wellbeing, improve strength, endurance and/or fitness and to reaffirm their Welsh identity/community cohesion in exercise and social situations.
- A minority of fluent/1st language Welsh speakers reported feeling marginalised in their own country where Welsh language provision of activities/coaches are not available, however, a majority of Welsh speakers (including Welsh learners and individuals who ‘speak a little/say a few words’ in Welsh) felt that provision of facilities/coaches (irrespective of language) is more important than the language of provision.
- The majority of Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities in Wales recognised the social value of the Welsh language and that bilingual provision of physical activities reinforced Welsh identity and helps others born in Wales, who are non-Welsh speaking / Welsh learners to integrate into the community.
- Swimming is the most popular activity enjoyed by Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities in Wales followed by fitness classes and the gym. In addition to swimming, rugby, football and walking/dancing (Twmpath) are the most popular activities for children.
- The main barrier to physical activities for Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities across all age ranges, genders and language competence was the closure or reduced access to classes located in indoor facilities especially swimming pools and fitness classes. This was particularly apparent in Ceredigion, west Wales, where hockey opportunities have also been significantly reduced.
- Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities are increasingly excluded from participation in physical activity where they do not have use of a car and are required to use public transport. The higher cost and time involved in travelling to participate in physical activities further afield contributes significantly to lower levels of participation.
- Provision of less intensive and disabled activities appropriate to the lower physical abilities and demands of less-able Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities is lacking. Provision of safe cycle routes for families was highlighted.
- A 10 mile one-way and 20 mile round trip was considered by the majority of Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities to be the maximum distance they should reasonably have to travel to access physical activity opportunities in their community.
- Many Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities reported feeling they have no ‘voice’ in decisions relating to provision of physical activity opportunities in their community.
- In total 42% of Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities take part in the recommended minimum 150 minutes of moderate/vigorous physical activity each week. A further 29% take part for more than 90 minutes each week whilst 15% are active for less than 60 minutes per week.
This study has demonstrated that physical activities and sport are important and valued opportunities through which Welsh identity, heritage and future ambitions are shared in rural communities. Maintaining and expanding the current level of provision to enable rural communities to thrive and for individual participants and families to meet there physical activity needs and motivations is the most important priority for Sport Wales.
Whilst a minority of respondents sought more opportunities for physical activities in Welsh, the majority of participants and families living in rural communities in Wales were emphatic in reporting that provision of facilities and opportunity to be physically active were more important than the language in which the activity was provided.
This report suggests the social value of bilingual provision is the most inclusive provision for all Welsh speaking participants and families in rural communities in Wales. At the same time, bilingual provision supports the social cohesion of these communities by creating more opportunities for fluent Welsh speakers to socialise and be physically active in their native tongue, whilst also integrating Welsh learners and others born in Wales (who are non-Welsh speaking/English speaking newcomers) to the unique culture and heritage of Wales. Increased prioritisation of bilingual physical activities opportunities are an important vehicle through which the needs and motivations of Welsh speaking participants and families living in rural communities across Wales can be met.